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Humans are social animals; we are inherently interested in hearing about others. This need to gossip serves a multitude of evolutionary and social functions. Here we investigate whether gossip serves to entertain us and reduce boredom. In Study 1, we administered the 24-item Gossip Functions Questionnaire (Foster, 2004) to a nationally representative sample (N = 2060). Participants also reported how bored they felt that day. Bored people gossiped significantly more (r = .20). We also examined boredom’s relation to the four social functions of gossip: entertainment, friendship, influence, and information. We found that entertainment, friendship, and influence functions were significantly associated with boredom (r > .17). Interestingly, the information function of gossip was not associated with boredom. We then extended this work in another nationally representative sample (Study 2; N = 910), and experimentally manipulating gossip in two online experiments (Studies 3 and 4; Ns = 159 and 424). Together, these findings suggest that when people are bored, gossip may be used as an emotion regulation strategy rather than as a source of information.
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